The Window Cleaner's Wife
Allow me to introduce myself....
I am the window cleaner's wife. That's right. I married a window cleaner. Not for the reasons you may think, though, because my windows never get cleaned.
Everyone always asks me if I have any tips for cleaning windows, as if, somehow, I have absorbed all my husband's skills and expertise through osmosis. I can tell you it is all about buying the right window cleaning equipment. You can't expect to get a professional quality cleaning with cheap equipment from the hardware store. And, don't even think about trying to get the job done with a gas station squeegee. Have you ever seen a professional use one on anything but their rear window?
Tips From The Window Cleaner's Wife
I've been married to a window cleaner for over 15 years. I have seen and heard every crazy story about windows and gutters that you can imagine. There were the contractors who cut metal pipes next to a very expensive custom window and left metal shavings embedded in the glass. There was a house with four foot trees growing in the gutters. My personal favorite was the house where the painters used masking tape to keep paint off the glass and the owners left it there for three and a half years! It took over an hour to scrap each window.
I should point out that I am a terrible window cleaner. I leave streaks no matter how hard I try. I have, however, picked up some good tips that I can pass along.
1. Steel wool: You can buy this at the hardware store. Look for #0000 or super fine. It is actually soft to the touch. Wet your window down with soapy water and then rub the entire surface of the glass with the steel wool. It removes any stuck on debris, sap, cobwebs and those little black dots (its spider poop - if you must know). Steel wool just gets everything off in one fell swoop, no scrubbing or re-washing needed later, and is a professional window cleaner's best friend.
2. Don't worry about soap: You can use any special soaps, sprays, foams, detergents, cleaners, de-greasers, or fill-in-the-blanks that you want you want. Some pros use a product called Dazzle; some homeowners like to use newspaper. Professional window cleaners know that it is not the cleaning product but rather the one doing the cleaning that gets the job done. Fill a bucket with warm water and a squirt of your regular liquid dish soap. My husband prefers Joy but any liquid dish soap will do. Keep in mind that the soapy water does not completely clean the windows; it is the steel wool from above that really gets the job done.The soap just gives the steel wool and the squeegee a nice surface to glide over.
3. Lint free towels: One of the biggest problems people encounter when they clean the windows or mirrors in their house are the little fuzzies left behind by most products. You can't really appreciate a good cleaning job when all you see are those fuzzies on the surface. Lint-free towels are a great way to combat this nuisance. You can buy cloth diapers for this job or try what the professionals use, huck towels or chamois. Remember to wash and dry them separately from other clothes and towels or your lint-free towels will become lint-y and need to be re-purposed for another chore.
4. Patience: The biggest tip I can give anyone about window cleaning is to use patience. It takes patience to learn how to leave a window streak-free. This is not a project you take on every weekend; you are not going to be perfect. Start on a big picture window or sliding glass door. Wash it a few times and get a feel for the squeegee before you tackle the rest of the house. And, when you're done, stand back and admire all your hard work. Or, if that's just too much trouble, you could always call my husband.
So, Should You Clean Your Own Windows? Could You?
5 Household Jobs You Can Do Yourself to Save Money
The economy is taking its toll on everyone. Couponing is hot. Frugal is sexy. And, Victory gardens are making a comeback. You cut out the gourmet coffee drinks, switched to no-brand laundry detergent and dropped cable altogether. What else can you do to tighten that belt a little further? What else can you do to save money around the house?
1. Carpet Cleaning: You know you've seen them. At every hardware store and grocery store check-out lane in America there is some sort of carpet cleaning rental machine. Research them; look for coupons. Don't forget to move all your furniture and vacuum ahead of time. They rent by the hour and we do not want to overpay. Don't forget to buy the soap. Your house is going to be all spiffy in no time.
2. Change the Oil: Even if you are not handy, you can change the oil with a little instruction and a YouTube video or two. In fact, once you get the hang of it, maybe you can even get it done in ten minutes or less like the pros.
3. Clean the Windows: Your windows look bad. Admit it. You thought you could get away with just skipping the service to save money. But. remember, even if the window cleaner doesn't stop by, your windows still get dirty. Solution? Buy a window cleaning kit and get out there yourself. It is not a difficult job; it just takes practice to leave a window streak-free. Plus, you just saved yourself a couple hundred bucks.
4. Power Wash: Once a year, you call that guy and he comes to power wash your deck and seal it. It's a loud, messy job but someone's got to do it. Why is that someone not you? Run on up to your local hardware super store and rent a pressure washer for the weekend. Roll up your sleeves, down an extra cup of coffee and go to town. It just takes a little time but you can easily do this job yourself and save some money. Heck, you can even skip the gym this weekend; you just got a great workout in right on your back deck.
5. Lawn Service: Maybe you already cut out the lawn guy, maybe you didn't. You should. There is something so intrinsically American about mowing the lawn every Saturday morning with your neighbors in surburbia. Go on. Mow the lawn. Meet the neighbors. Join in the fun.
There you go. You saved money, got some exercise and have the best looking house on the block. Good job!
Top 6 Things To Look For If You Hire a Professional Window Cleaner
Hiring a window cleaner can be challenging. You can go on the recommendations of friends and neighbors but, barring that, it is difficult to know who to hire. I owned a window cleaning company for over 18 years with my husband and will share my tips for what you should look for when hiring someone to get this job off you to do list.
1. Professional Phone Manners: Many window cleaning businesses are small, home-based businesses however that is no excuse for improper phone etiquette. If your call is not returned in a timely manner, 24 hours (maybe more in the busy spring season), then move on. If you finally speak to someone and they are rude or don't pay attention, move on. Nip a potential problem in the bud and hire someone else.
2. Free Estimates: Always get an estimate. Don't trust someone who gives estimates over the phone. There are so many variables in window cleaning that you really need an in-person estimate. On occasion, they may have done your neighbor's identical house and be able to answer accurately by referencing that paperwork but, for the most part, get one in person. And, this should go without saying, never pay for an estimate.
3. Experience: In this economy, many people think they can just go out and clean a few windows for extra cash. Window cleaning, however, is a skilled trade that takes several years to master. In fact, inexperienced window cleaners can give the industry as a whole a bad rap; they can leave streaks or, worse, permanent scratches. Be sure to ask how experienced you window cleaner is and, more importantly, if they carry liability insurance.
4. Professional Attire: When someone arrives at your home, are they professional dressed? A uniform with a name tag would be great, but at least a clean t-shirt tucked into presentable jeans or shorts. If someone shows up with their underwear hanging out of the back of their pants or piercings, move one. In fact, in 18 years, I didn't hire a single person that wasn't clean cut and tattoo-free. A window cleaner will be spending a few hours inside your house; they should be presentable.
5. Polite: When they enter your home, do they remove their shoes or wear disposable booties? It really is a minor detail, but if they respect you enough to remove their shoes, then they will probably respect you enough to make a conscious effort to do a good job.
6. Quality Work: It may be tempting to look at the windows for streaks, but you really have to wait until both sides are clean. Often, a streak can appear to be outside, but is really on the yet-to-be-cleaned inside pane. You can, however, feel free to take a walk around when they finish, maybe as they are loading their window cleaning equipment back up, and inspect the quality of the workmanship. There should be no obvious streaks, no drip marks along the sides and no water on your interior window ledges. Also, they should not have scuffed your walls with any of their equipment.
5 Little Known Pieces of Window Cleaning Equipment
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different pieces of window cleaning equipment. In fact, every window tool has a specific job to do. From bonnets, mitts and sleeves to rubbers and pills, there are many little known pieces of window cleaning equipment that homeowner's never see. The names can be odd, if not downright strange, but they all have a purpose. In fact, window cleaners are a stubborn bunch and don't take to new products lightly. They like tried and true, regardless of how weird the name sounds. Take a peek inside the world of professional window cleaning and see for yourself.
1. Bonnets: Better known as ladder bonnets, are lamb's wool slipcovers for a V-groove top section of a window cleaning ladder. They are designed to protect exterior stucco and siding from dents and scuffs. They also protect painted walls and wallpaper when you need to do interior ladder work. Good window cleaners know to use two different bonnets because the exterior one can get dirty, which does not mix well with white paint later.
2. Mitts: Similar to bonnets, mitts are also used to prevent dents, scuffs and scratches caused by ladders. Some professional window cleaners prefer open ended ladders instead of V-groove, so they use ladder mitts instead of bonnets. You can also use them to cover the ladder feet when working indoors on wood or other scratchable surfaces.
3. Sleeves: I know you think sleeves are on your shirt or jacket, but they are also used by professional window cleaners. Sleeves cover the T-bar, that window cleaning tool the pros use to wet down and soap up a window surface. The fabric can be soft and plush or it can have built-in little scrubbies to get all the stuck on debris off the glass. There's even a version called the "Blue Devil" that fits over a standard sleeve for extra abrasive scrubbing power, when needed. See, you're learning stuff already.
4. Rubbers: Another little known window cleaning product is a rubber. Before you go thinking this is an "adult" article, professional window cleaners call squeegee blades "rubbers". It started long before the other product got that nickname. Rubbers come in a variety of lengths, from 6" to 36". Most window cleaners buy a standard length for their squeegee of choice and then cut them down with a razor blade to fit smaller sizes, as needed. They are usually available in boxes of 12 or a gross - quick, math refresher course - what's a gross? 144, that's right.
5. The Pill: So, we go from rubbers to the Pill. Don't blame me; I didn't come up with these names. The pill is just like it sounds. It's a "pill" in a push-out-the-back-pack that you just drop in a bucket of water to make a quick and easy window cleaning solution. They also sell products called Dazzle, Glass Gleam, Winsol, Squeegee Off, Super Slip and Glide. Creative bunch those window cleaners, eh?
There you have it. A little educational blurb from the professional window cleaner community